Thursday, January 16, 2014

Makar Sankranti, a scientific, vedic festival that adores universe,sun.

Our ancient ones (rishis) taught us, at the inner core, the human life is Sat-Chit-Anand (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss) and each and every activity in life is meant to lead the individual to that One goal of existential realization.

Thousands of years ago, the Hindu festivals (utsav) spread throughout the Indian-subcontinent and in the east as far as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and in the west as far as America, as recorded by Mayans in South America. These festivals took on local hues depending on the climate, agricultural environment, evolving cultural landscape and location. Though somewhat modified over the millenia, many still retain their core essence ans spirit.
Hindus celebrate major cosmic changes, such as the transmigration of the sun from one zodiac sign (Rashi) as Sankranti. Of the twelve sankrantis, Makara Sankranti on January 14th,or 15 th(It changes) is the most significant; the sun passes through the winter solstice, from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn (Makar). We witness cosmic, astronomical harmony and prayerfully honor this scientific Truth. The six months of northern movement of the sun is followed by six months of southern movement.
This festival, unlike other Hindu festivals, is not dependent on the tithi (position of the moon) but on position of the sun. On this day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn. To compensate for the difference that occurs due to the revolution around the sun, sometimes the day of sankrant gets pushed ahead by one day.

Makar Sankranti marks the commencement of the Sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere (Makara raasi ), signifying the onset of Uttarayana Punyakalam, and is a day of celebration all over the country. The day begins with people taking holy dips in the waters and worshipping the Sun.

Traditionally, this period is considered an auspicious time and the veteran Bhishma of Mahabharata chose to die during this period. Bhishma fell to the arrows of Arjun. With his boon to choose the time of his death, he waited on a bed of arrows to depart from this world only during this period. It is believed that those who die in this period have no rebirth.

The Indo Gangetic plain begins this day with taking dips in the Ganga and offering water to the Sun god. The dip is said to purify the self and bestow punya. Special puja is offered as a thanksgiving for good harvest. According to folklore, girls who take the holy dip get handsome husbands and boys get beautiful brides.

Til and Rice are two important ingredients of this festival. In the rice-eating belt of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, people have a special rice-centric meal on this day. Also known as Gangasagar Mela, on this day, people come from all over India for a ceremonial cleansing in the river Hooghly, near Calcutta.

Karnataka -men, women and children attired in colourful tunics visit friends and relatives and exchange pieces of sugarcane, a mixture of fried til, molasses, pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram. The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings. As part of the festival, cows and bulls are given a wash and the horns are painted with bright colours and decorated with garland, and are taken in a procession in the village to the accompaniment of pipes and drums. In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire.

It is a big event for the Tamils and the people of Andhra Pradesh. The Telugus like to call it 'Pedda Panduga' meaning big festival. The whole event lasts for four days, the first day Bhogi, the second day Sankranti, the third day Kanuma and the fourth day, Mukkanuma.


One month preceeding Sankranti is called Dhanurmasam and is also an auspicious period. People wake up early, take bath and go around the streets singing devotional songs. Houses are whitewashed and farmers clean their warehouses. Colorful rangoli (muggulu) are drawn in the front yards of every house during this month. These artistic floral designs are drawn on the floor with rice flour or fine powder from limestone. These patterns are decorated with marigold placed on cowdung balls. Colorfully dressed young girls go round them singing songs.

Makar Sankranti has an astrological significance, as the sun enters the Capricorn (Sanskrit: Makara) zodiac constellation on that day. This date remains almost constant with respect to the Gregorian calendar. However, precession of the Earth's axis (called ayanamsa) causes Makara Sankranti to move over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makara Sankranti was on 31 December and is now on 14 January. According to calculations, from 2050 Makar Sankranti will fall on January 15.
Makara Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. Many Indians also conflate this festival with the Winter Solstice, and believe that the sun ends its southward journey (Sanskrit: Dakshinayana) at the Tropic of Capricorn, and starts moving northward (Sanskrit: Uttarayaana) towards the Tropic of Cancer, in the month of Pausha on this day in mid-January. There is no observance of Winter Solstice in the Hindu religion. 


What is Uttarayan and Dakshinayan of SUN-

Sun rising and setting slightly towards North-East and North-West respecitvely between mid-january to mid-july in every year.
This period is called Uttarayan in vedic terms and it means uttar(north)+ayan(movement) of sun.
The remaining 6 months are termed as dakshinayan which means south movement of sun.

Originally, this was celebrated as Winter Solstice in ancient India but later due to the fact that the solstices are continually precessing at a rate of 50″ / year due to the precession of the equinoxes, winter solstice now occurs at 21st december each year.


Surya Siddhantha bridges this difference by juxtaposing the four solstitial and equinotial points with four of the twelve boundaries of the signs.

This is also the best time to spend in a temple or at a peaceful place and recite Gayatri Mantra in silence.

In vedic religion, God doesn’t have any shape and for us, time is manifestation of God.
Vishnu or Narayana is worshipped through Sun God and this Sun’s equinoxes are celebrated as festivals.

Vedic astrology personifies Sankranti. As per Vedic astrology Sankranti is 60 Yojana (approximately 432 Km) wide and long. Sankranti has figure of a man with one face, long nose, wide lips and nine arms. It moves in forwards direction but keeps watching backwards. It keeps revolving while holding a coconut shell in one hand.

As per Hindu beliefs, the above personification seems inauspicious and hence Sankranti window is prohibited for all auspicious activities. However, the Sankranti duration is considered highly significant for charity, penance and Shradh rituals. People offer alms to needy, take bath in holy rivers and perform Shradh for ancestors during Sankranti.

http://www.astrogle.com/astro-predictions/makar-sankranti-2014-astrological-significance-effects.html

http://www.sanatan.org/en/a/111_makar-sankranti.html 


huffingtonpost


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